21. Dec, 2014

Let me read to you the tale of Hiawatha

As I sit by my window and watch a watery moon shine faintly, I wonder what tale I shall tell you tonight. Shall I talk about the animals that live in our garden for waifs and strays, or the characters that live in Gusty Gully? Or perhaps I should just talk to you, as if you were here in the room with me!

      I shall light the fire and sit in the old armchair besides it. You can sit in the chair opposite me but be careful not to sit on the cat. If you’re in the mood for music we could sing-along with the old guitar that's leaning against the piano. Or perhaps you would like to listen to some classical music or read poetry from one of the books on the shelf behind you.

      On an evening like this, I like to read Hiawatha, written by Longfellow in 1855. The names of the characters just roll off your tongue, like Gitche Manito, the peace-bringing leader and Mudjekeewis, father of the Four Winds. Then there’s Nokomis, who falls from the moon and becomes Hiawatha’s Grandmother and the book would be nothing without Minnehaha, Hiawatha’s childhood sweetheart.

By the shore of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam,
In the pleasant Summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.

      Perhaps it’s because I can identify with this fictitious character, for I too went on a journey when I was much younger and did not return for many moons and many winters. I too stood on the shore and waved at my parting but no-one waved back, for no-one saw me go!


       So you are still there, sitting in the chair opposite me despite the embers fading fast. Take a blanket from behind you and place it on your knees and I shall bank up the fire and read the final verse.   

"I am weary of your quarrels,
Weary of your wars and bloodshed,
Weary of your prayers for vengeance,
Of your wranglings and dissensions;
All your strength is in your union,
All your danger is in discord;
Therefore be at peace henceforward,
And as brothers live together.

Goodnight my friend and remember, it is later than you think!